Thomas family passes down values, generation to generation

David Ball
The Orange Leader

Earl Thomas Jr. admitted he would rather talk about his family than himself

“People appreciate it more when you’re humble,” Thomas Jr. said. “I told Earl (Thomas III who plays for the Seattle Seahawks) let others esteem you and let your play speak for you.”

Thomas Jr., moreover, learned his life lessons from his father, The Rev. Earl Thomas Sr., and his mother, “a great lady.”

“He was a hard worker. He worked two to three jobs at the same time. He told me he would’ve supported me more in football, but he was working all the time,” Thomas Jr. said.

He also learned not to play his mother off of his father growing up to get something he wanted because they were of one mind and on the same wavelength.

“He never used profanity. He was a great role model for a family man. He was a disciplinarian and a provider. Growing up I didn’t know, but I now see why he did the things he did,” Thomas Jr. said. “He told me he was not trying to be my friend but my father. He had great vision and he stuck with it till he died. He didn’t let the hurricanes discourage him, even when they tore up the church. He kept on building. He was the backbone of the family.”

His father founded the 6th Street Community Church and was considered a bishop by the church and others in the region.

Thomas Jr. wasn’t afforded the luxury of sleeping in growing up. He had to get up in the morning to work. He joked there were no video games in those days.

“My dad would make you video the yard up with a rake,” he said.

That work ethic carries over in his job with the city of Orange Water Department.

Another mentor in Thomas Jr.’s life was Coach Leroy Breedlove. He was the backbone of the community and he inspired kids.

In addition to Earl Thomas III who was a standout player at West Orange-Stark High School and the University of Texas, the family has produced other great athletes as well.

Thomas Jr., an Orange native, was All-District in football for the West Orange High Chiefs and he set the state record in the long jump. In fact, last week’s Black History Month Orange Leader profile, Charles Guillory Jr., was the first to put a football in Thomas Jr.’s hands.

Thomas Jr.’s brother played ball at Stephen F. Austin State University. Thomas III’s brother and Thomas Jr.’s son, Seth, is playing at McNeese State University and his father expects him to have a breakout year next year.

Thomas Jr. believes his son playing in Seattle is a good experience for him.

“They have a new coaching staff. (Head coach) Pete Carroll is a player’s coach. They speak well of Earl up there; of how respectful he is and how he was brought up right. Parents will say that about their child, but it’s good to hear that from other people. They love him there. He’s had the chance to grow up a whole lot in Seattle,” he said.

Seattle has a good reason to love Thomas III. He led the league with five interceptions, possibly six if you count preseason and he was nominated to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

He also has a couple of teammates from Southeast Texas — Jordan Babineaux of Port Arthur and Red Bryant from Jasper.

“It would be a dream come true if both my both boys played on the same team,” Thomas Jr. said.

He added it’s a blessing for his son to meet legendary stars like Troy Aikman and Tony Dorsett. Older veteran players on the Seahawks, such as Lawyer Milloy, have taken him under their wing and shown how to enjoy life off the field and not get into any trouble.

In addition to sports, Thomas Jr. said his sons grew up in church doing Bible bowl, attending Sunday school his wife taught and playing drums in the church — at two years of age.

Thomas III still has a love of music and he can play five different instruments, his father said.

“Both my sons came up early in sports and in church. They never got into trouble,” Thomas Jr. said.